Peas, Pancetta and new potatoes a La Grecque

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Peas glorious peas… We love peas. They say that growing vegetables is great with kids: the picture of a small child sowing seeds, watching with excitement each day as they grow and then seeing their unbridled joy when they get to harvest the plants they have lovingly tended. The truth is that our kids have never been that excited! However, many happy moments have been shared picking fresh pods of peas, shelling them when they are small and sweet and eating them straight from the plant…

So, lots of our peas get eaten before they even get to the kitchen, but we do also have a selection of meals that we cook where the peas are one of the main features. This salad a la grecque is very adaptable and varies as the season goes on. Right now we’re making it with peas and new potatoes. Over the next month or so the potatoes will give way to broad beans and courgettes as they become ready. It is one of those dishes that doesn’t sound like much, but looks pretty and tastes amazing thanks to the vinaigrette (credit for which goes to Gordon Ramsay I believe).

Ingredients

Makes a light meal for 4. Dressing makes enough for two meals.

  • 150ml olive oil
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 small sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 12 coriander seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 100g pancetta, finely chopped
    250g shelled baby peas (or as many as you have available if less)
  • 750g new potatoes
  • 1 sprig mint, to garnish

Method

  1. Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, herbs, seasonings and garlic in a small pan. Warm through (but don’t boil). Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, cover and leave for at least half a day (ideally overnight) for the flavours to infuse. Strain through a sieve and discard the herbs, seasoning and garlic.
  2. Slowly fry the pancetta in a heavy-based pan until dry and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  3. Cook the new potatoes in a pan of boiling water for ~15 minutes (depending on exactly how big they are).
  4. Cook the peas in boiling water for about 1 minute. If they are young and fresh that’s all that they will need. If you’ve let them get big they might need 2 minutes, but do not overcook.
  5. Whisk the dressing and combine half of the dressing with the vegetables in a serving dish. Sprinkle over the pancetta and garnish with the mint. Keep the other half of the dressing in the fridge to use another day.

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